Janice was in her room surfing the internet, enjoying her long deserved semester break after working hard for the past few months. She was chilling in the comfort of her own room, when the door suddenly clicked open. Her mom’s head popped through partially, and Janice knew at once that she needed a favour. She knows her mom too well after all these years.
“Hey Janice, I hope you’re not too busy right now. Do you mind taking Sam to get his haircut? I have plenty of laundry and stuff to attend to right now you see,” she asked, almost in a pleading tone. On first hand, it may seem plausible for Janice to reject, but she knows that if she did so, mom is sure to “repay” the favour somehow next time. Sighing, she consented to her mom’s request, brought Sam and headed out to the nearby mall. Sam was Janice’s younger brother and only aged thirteen then.
As soon as they stepped out of the house, the heat set in. It was summer and the sun was scorching bright. Through the sunshine, even Janice’s dark brown locks seem to glisten in an orange-like shade. With Sam in hand, they walked towards the nearby mall where Sam usually gets his haircuts. In the mall, there is an express salon cum barbershop where haircuts are done for a fixed price, and guaranteed to complete in 10 minutes. Its fuss-free selling point attracted Janice’s mom to bring Sam there all the time.
In less than five minutes, Janice and Sam stepped foot into the mall, and the air conditioning instantly soothed off the summer heat while they were walking earlier. Janice was already soaked up in sweat, especially since her hair was long and covered half of her back. She gathered her hair at the back and lifted it up with one hand, wiping off sweat with the other.
After chilling down briefly, Janice wasted no time as she brought Sam over to the express salon. At the entrance, Janice saw that all the barbers (cum hairdressers) were occupied with customers at the moment. While these express salons cater to men and women, the majority of their customer base are males. It was no different looking at this visit, as most of the customers getting their haircuts were guys too.
As Janice walked in with Sam, a young lady with long jet-black hair entered at the same time. Out of courtesy, Janice prompted for her to go ahead and get the ticket first. The tickets were bought from an automated machine at the corner of the salon. After Janice bought a ticket for Sam, she noticed that the lady was sitting on the bench already. Knowing that the order that the customers sit at the bench determines the queue, Janice prompted Sam to take a seat beside the lady.
“Sis, is it okay if I go check out the comics from the bookstore nearby? I promise I will be back in less than ten,” Sam asked Janice. Already slightly upset that she had to be mom’s replacement for bringing Sam here for a haircut, she was very reluctant to agree to his request. However, Sam repeatedly pleaded and Janice finally agreed to avoid looking like a mean sister in front of everyone.
With Sam gone for the moment, the seat beside the lady was vacated. Janice had to step in and queue on behalf of Sam while he was away. While she sat, there was nothing much to do but observe the haircuts going on. Sitting at the chair directly in front of the bench was a young man, whom was getting a pretty big change. The male barber was swiftly working on his hair, chopping off inches of his hair. This was evident as the white cape plastered with the express salon’s logo was littered with his hair, especially on the shoulders.
After a brief moment, the man’s haircut was finished and he headed off while the barber quickly tidied the area, swiping the floor around the chair quickly and cleaned his haircutting tools. The barber then signalled for the lady beside Janice to take a seat at his chair. Janice moved over to take a seat at the lady’s place on the bench so as not to obstruct the queue, especially since there were more customers queuing behind Janice already.
As the lady took a seat, Janice began to turn anxious as Sam’s turn was next and he was not back yet. Flustered, there was nothing she could do because she couldn’t leave her place to find Sam. If she did, Sam would have to queue up all over again and it would take up too much time. She prayed desperately in her mind that Sam quickly came back while she continued to sit on the bench.
Trying to keep calm, she decided to focus on the lady who just took a seat at the male barber’s chair. The barber pulled out a neck strip from a dispenser on the shelf beside the large mirror, and wrapped it around the lady’s neck. It was sealed tightly by the back of her neck with a blue-coloured adhesive that was part of the neck strip. The barber then pulled out a haircutting cape off the shelf and skilfully tossed the cape over the lady, draping her entire body and fastening it tightly around her neck as well. The cape was so huge that the lady’s slim silhouette could no longer be seen, except for her high heels that rested on the footrest which peered through slightly from beneath the cape.
Without waiting for the barber to prompt, the lady spoke up and instructed him on how she wanted her haircut. “Give me a classic one-length bob, and thick straight bangs,” the lady instructed the barber. Upon hearing her instructions, the barber looked surprised and so was Janice! She had such beautiful hair and she actually wanted to cut it off.
The barber acknowledged the lady’s desire, and reached for a pair of cordless clippers off the shelf. He unplugged the guard off the clippers, and gave the blades a good swipe with a brush. With the clippers in one hand, he gently lowered the lady’s head forward with the other so that it was easier for him to cut her hair. The lady’s head was lowered till the point where her chin almost touched her chest. The clippers then came alive with a thud. The barber gave the lady’s jet-black locks its final few moments by combing through them a couple more times; it will take the lady a long time before she can comb through such long hair again. With the hair neatened out from the combing, the barber pressed the clippers on the lady’s locks at the nape area in a straight line! It was simultaneous but Janice could catch a clear glimpse as the lady’s locks were sheared off by the clippers’ blades. The sheared locks dislodged from the lady’s remaining hair, and descended to rest on the salon’s floor.
With the back done, the barber moved to her left, obstructing Janice’s view briefly. When the barber was done and moved to work on the other side, she was shocked as she realised that the long locks that framed the lady’s face were gone! What was left was hair that rested at chin-length, allowing the lady’s jawbone and part of her ear to be visible with the hair now gone. Evidence of the cut was obvious as long jet-black locks could be seen resting in the lady’s lap on the cape.
The barber then tilted the chair slightly so that he could position himself facing the lady’s face. He combed down the hair at the frontal hairline, which temporarily covered the lady’s face. He then pressed the clippers fearlessly just above the eyebrows, sending a thick pile of hair plunging down the cape, adding on to the pile of hair already present on the lady’s lap.
With that, the lady’s haircut was almost done and the male barber was almost finished as he proceeded to use the air washer to clean off the loose hairs for the lady. At this moment, a female barber working on a customer seated a chair away from the lady was almost done as well. The customer was already on his feet and strolling off as the female barber cleaned up her station.
What Janice feared most was going to happen. Sam was not back yet at this moment. How will Janice cope with the situation? Check out the following chapters to find out how the story will eventually end!